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Cummings Issues Statement on House Floor Opposing Republican Bill To Repeal the D.C. Budget Autonomy Act

May 25, 2016
Press Release

Cummings Issues Statement on House Floor Opposing Republican Bill To Repeal the D.C. Budget Autonomy Act

 

Washington, D.C. (May 25, 2016)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, spoke on the House floor in opposition to H.R. 5233, the Clarifying Congressional Intent in Providing for DC Home Rule Act of 2016.

 

The bill would repeal the District of Columbia’s Local Budget Autonomy Amendment Act (BAA) and prohibit D.C. from passing similar legislation in the future.  The BAA permits D.C. to spend its local funds without congressional approval—also known as budget autonomy.  There has been bipartisan support for budget autonomy.  The Oversight Committee’s last four chairmen—including Republicans Tom Davis and Darrell Issa—worked to give D.C. budget autonomy.  Budget autonomy will also improve D.C.’s strong finances and operations, and has been upheld by the Court.

 

 

 

Below are Ranking Member Cummings’ remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the House Floor today:

Mr. Chairman, I strongly oppose this bill, which would repeal the District of Columbia’s Local Budget Autonomy Act and prohibit D.C. from passing such laws in the future. 

I do not believe there is a member of Congress who would stand for the federal government dictating the local budget of a city in his or her district, and D.C. should be treated no differently. Granting D.C. local budget autonomy is not only the right thing to do, it would also have significant financial benefits for the District, such as lower borrowing costs.

It would also mean an end to the threat of a cutoff of D.C. municipal services in the event of a federal government shutdown.

I also want to express my disappointment that some Members have threatened jail for D.C. employees who implement the Autonomy Act. 

The threat is backward.  The only court ruling in effect on this law upheld it and ordered all District employees to implement it. 

            House Republicans have taken a regrettable turn in their approach to D.C. home rule.  The last four chairmen of the Oversight Committee—including Republicans Tom Davis and Darrell Issa—sought to give the District more home rule and more budget autonomy—not less. 

Yet, in this Congress, the Oversight Committee has passed legislation to overturn a District law that prohibits employment discriminating based on reproductive health decisions and launched an investigation into the District’s marijuana legalization initiative.

This bill is not only unprincipled—it is bad policy. 

Jacque DePuy, a former Counsel for the District of Columbia Committee, and the majority’s own hearing witness, said this, and I quote: 

“It is the duly elected representatives of the citizens of the District of Columbia who should determine how taxpayer money is spent.”

We hear a lot of rhetoric about devolving authority to local governments. 

Yet this bill tramples on a local government and the will of their local citizens.

I urge members to reject this bill.

Issues: 
114th Congress